World Autism Awareness

The month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness. By declaring April 2 as the official World Autism Awareness Day the United Nations hopes to bring the world’s attention to autism, which is a disorder that affects tens of millions of people.

By now everyone has heard of Autism and chances are you know someone either directly or indirectly that has been diagnosed with the disorder. For those who are unsure as to what Autism actually is and what some of the signs and symptoms are, please continue to read below.

Basic explanation of Autism:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Autism is a form of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s), which are a group of developmental disabilities that cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.  Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime.

It is reported that an average of 1 out of 110 children in the United States have some form of ASD.  Studies have shown boys are more susceptible to having Autism.  In fact, one in 70 boys and one in 315 girls are diagnosed with Autism every year.  Alarmingly, government statistics have found the rate of Autism is rising from 10-17 percent annually.  According to the CDC, this is the most prevalent developmental disorder to date.

Autism is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Scientists do not know yet exactly what causes these differences for most people with ASD. However, some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. There are multiple causes of ASD, although most are not yet known.

Signs & Symptoms:
There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

Possible red flags, according to the CDC a person with ASD might:
• Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
• Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
• Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
• Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
• Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
• Have delayed speech and language skills
• Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
• Give unrelated answers to questions
• Get upset by minor changes
• Have obsessive interests
• Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
• Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Screening & Diagnosis:
Since there are no medical test (for example; blood test), to determine if a child has Autism it is sometimes hard to diagnose.  The doctor will look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

Children with ASD develop at different rates in different areas. They may have delays in language, social, and learning skills, while their ability to walk and move around are about the same as other children their age. They might be very good at putting puzzles together or solving computer problems, but they might have trouble with social activities like talking or making friends. Children with an ASD might also learn a hard skill before they learn an easy one. For example, a child might be able to read long words but not be able to tell you what sound a “b” makes.

Children develop at their own pace, so it can be difficult to tell exactly when a child will learn a particular skill. But, there are age-specific developmental milestones used to measure a child’s social and emotional progress in the first few years of life

Is there a cure for Autism?
According to unfortunately, experts have been unable to find a cure for Autism just yet.  There is hope though; Scientist are working hard every day to help find a solution for the growing problem.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s behavior and development, please seek professional medical advice and address your concerns with a physician. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the more successful therapies can be.

Please join Urgent Care Centers of SWFL in wearing blue as often as possible during the month of April to help support Autism Awareness!!!

Check-in Express – hold your place in line without sitting in the waiting room.
This service is free for patients to use.  Simply text the code for the center you wish to visit (2273 for Estero and 3333 for Cape Coral) to 239-330-2654, answer a few short questions via SMS text, and we will automatically confirm that we are holding your place in line.

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